When a decision is made against you
If a Tribunal decision is made against you the tribunal order will set out what you must do and by when. Your rights of appeal or rehearing are set out on the back of the order.
Examples of actions resulting from a Disputes Tribunals decision include:
- making a payment to the other party in your dispute (the creditor), or
- delivering property to the creditor, or
- carrying out work for the creditor.
You need to do what the Tribunal has ordered by the date or time on the order, or within 48 hours if no date or time is specified. The other party (creditor) may contact you directly to arrange for the order to be carried out.
If you don't obey the order
If you don't obey the order, the creditor can ask a legal agent or debt collection agency to act on their behalf, or they can apply to the District Court to enforce the order.
If enforcement action is filed against you, the costs are added to what you have to pay. These costs include all filing fees, plus any towing, storage and auction costs if your possessions are seized. You'll avoid these extra costs if you comply with the order voluntarily and on time.
The first enforcement steps are usually:
- an Order for Examination to examine your financial situation, or
- a Distress Warrant to demand immediate payment or have your personal possessions taken and sold to pay the debt.
Order for Examination
An Order for Examination is used to examine the financial situation of someone who has had a Disputes Tribunal decision made against them.
It is a court enforcement action that can be applied for by the creditor in a Disputes Tribunal dispute, and involves the person in question going to an examination hearing with a court official. The official will look at your financial situation and make decisions about your ability to pay the debt.
You must attend the hearing.
If you are able to pay, the court official will either set out payment terms that you must follow, or direct that enforcement action is started against you. This may include:
- assets or possessions are taken by a bailiff or collections officer and sold to pay the debt (Distress Warrant)
- compulsory deductions are made from your benefit, wages or salary (Attachment Order)
- for larger debts, a record of the debt can be registered against some property you own, for example land, buildings, shares etc. (Charging Order)
If you can't meet the payment terms
You can also apply to the court for an examination hearing, if you believe you can't meet the payment terms stated in the tribunal order. You will have to pay the filing fee for this application.
A Distress Warrant is an application by the creditor to have a bailiff or collections officer demand payment from you in person for the amount owing.
Under a Distress Warrant the bailiff or collections officer can seize your personal possessions, such as a TV, stereo or vehicle, if you don't pay the full amount owed immediately. These items are sold by the Court to pay the debt and any costs.